How to share files and folders on Microsoft OneDrive

Onedrive
Pablo Calvog/Shutterstock
Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service (formerly and somewhat more colorfully known as SkyDrive) is a perfectly serviceable “bucket” of data storage, but it really shines when you pair it up with Windows itself. It’s also fairly competent at sharing files and folders with other OneDrive users, or even with public users on the web. If you need a little instruction, the following guide will show you how to share OneDrive files better than a kindergarten teacher.

On the web

The web interface of OneDrive doesn’t have any particular advantages over the integrated Windows version or the stand-alone desktop app, but it’s useful if you happen to be using a computer that isn’t yours. Just log into the site (onedrive.live.com) with the same Microsoft account that you use on your own computer. The default view is “Files,” which shows all the files in your root folder and the folders therein, including both default folders and any you’ve created yourself.

onedrive share

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

To share an individual file, navigate to the relevant folder, then right-click on its icon or thumbnail. Click “Share” to open the Share menu. From here you can invite people via an email, or click “Get a link” to create a publicly-visible link to view or download the file. Send that link through an email, text message, instant message, or any other medium, and your recipient will instantly have access to the file. (Remember, this link makes the file available to anyone, including anyone that your recipients share the link with!)

To adjust permissions, click “Recipients can only view.” Here you can select whether the people you send the file to can edit the file, and whether users without a Microsoft/OneDrive account can view the file. This makes a difference, since non-Microsoft users will have to download the file and re-upload it to share it, instead of using the built-in OneDrive tools.

onedrive share menu

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

If you want to share a folder, do the same thing — just right-click it and click “Share” to open the Share menu. You can share multiple items at once by holding down the Ctrl button, clicking each item, then clicking the “Share” button on the top menu. Remember, any files in your “Public” folder (which is included in OneDrive by default) are automatically shared with all web users.

In Windows 10 and Windows 8.1

OneDrive is deeply integrated with Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 – it’s built right into the default file explorer, and any files placed in the OneDrive folder will be automatically uploaded to Microsoft’s servers whenever you have an Internet connection. That makes it easy to share files: just upload them to OneDrive and use the Share function in any OneDrive app. But the service is so integrated that you don’t even need to leave the file browser.

onedrive desktop

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

Open your OneDrive folder in File Explorer – by default, it’s above “This PC” in the navigation panel on the left side. Right-click on any file or folder, then click “Share a OneDrive link.” The public link to the file or folder will automatically be saved to your clipboard. Now just right-click and select “Paste” or press Ctrl+V in an email, text message, et cetera. The link works the same way as it does in the web version.

onedrive disable link

Michael Crider/Digital Trends

If you need to stop sharing a file or folder, right-click it, then click “More OneDrive sharing options.” Your default browser will open the web version of OneDrive. Now click “Don’t share this folder” to revoke access to anyone who clicked the share link. Be aware: revoking access won’t help you if the recipient has already downloaded or modified the file.

Windows 8 and Windows 7 users

Older versions of Windows don’t come with the OneDrive service pre-installed. To get more or less the same functionality as newer versions of Windows, go to this address and download the OneDrive executable. Run it, log in with your primary Microsoft account, and select a folder location. Then follow the steps above to share files either on your desktop or on the web.

Other platforms

Microsoft takes a platform-agnostic approach to OneDrive, so apps are available on Windows, Windows Phone, OS X, iOS, Android, and even the Xbox. On OS X the app works the same as the Windows version, syncing local and cloud copies of files. On mobile platforms, OneDrive allows you to view and download your cloud files, but doesn’t keep a local copy of each file. You can still share links in the mobile apps, though the interface for doing so varies from platform to platform.

Photography

Photography news: Sony brings Eye Autofocus to critters via A.I.

In this week's photography news, the Sony a7 III and a7R III have some new capabilities, thanks to updated firmware. Lexar teases a crazy fast 1,000MB/s memory card, while Vimeo launches bulk upload possibilities.
Gaming

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.
Gaming

How to share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Deals

The Dell G5587 gaming laptop is on sale for one of the lowest prices we’ve seen

Even diehard desktop PC gamers have to admit that gaming laptops have come a long way in recent years, and the beefy Dell G5587 – now on sale from Walmart for $300 off – is a solid sub-$1,000 machine for work and play.
Computing

HP’s new Zbook, EliteBook 800 workstations go 4K with 8th-gen Intel CPUs

HP's new line of workstation laptops includes some seriously durable EliteBook and ZBook designs, with options for high-end, eighth-generation Intel CPUs, 2TB of storage, and discrete AMD Radeon graphics chips.
Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.
Computing

Light up your external GPU with Razer’s new Core X Chroma enclosure

The Razer Core X Chroma external graphics card enclosure is big enough for three-slot graphics cards, with enough space for a 700w PSU and it brings back the RGB lighting of the Core V2 — all for the same price as its predecessor.
Computing

Microsoft accelerates carbon reduction plans in new sustainability push

Microsoft wants to accelerate its sustainability goal of becoming a zero-carbon company. To reach those goals, Microsoft is doubling its self-imposed carbon tax to incentivize business divisions in making sustainable choices.
Computing

MacOS update may include external display support for iPads

Apple's upcoming MacOS is rumored to include a new native external display support feature. Code-named "Sidecar" the new feature is expected to allow MacOS computers to send app windows to external displays like iPads.
Deals

Apple’s MacBook laptop is on sale for just $800 for a limited time

If you have your heart set on a MacOS-powered laptop, B&H has a sale on Apple's MacBook that takes the price down to $800. Only select models are on sale right now, but you can score up to a $600 savings if you act quickly.
Computing

AMD could offer ray tracing with next-gen Navi graphics cards

Navi is the next-generation graphics card line from AMD and it's coming in just a couple of months time. When it does arrive, one of its major features may be ray tracing, which has to date been an Nvidia-exclusive feature.
Features

Exclusive: The Surface Hub 2S will revolutionize work. Here’s how it was made

Exclusive interviews with the designers, futurists, and visionaries behind the Surface Hub 2 paint a dramatic picture of how Microsoft thinks collaboration will change your office.
Computing

Exclusive: Microsoft’s Panos Panay has a trick up his sleeve

Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay gives us an exclusive peek at the 85-inch Surface Hub 2, and explains how innovation and collaboration will transform your workplace.